Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

August 2018

IHRSA Briefing Looks at Club Employees vs. Contractors

By Dave Ramont

Members of the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) are dedicated to making the world a healthier place through regular exercise. These members include gyms, spas, health clubs, fitness facilities, sports clubs and industry suppliers. IHRSA’s mission is to grow, protect and promote the health and fitness industry, and to provide these members with the benefits that will help them be more successful.

Some of these benefits include members-only resources, such as the IHRSA Briefing Papers, which cover such topics as injury liability, harassment, employment law and keeping kids safe in your club. And now the latest topic, Independent Contractors, is available for download on the IHRSA website. This resource provides information for club operators who are wondering if hiring an employee or an independent contractor best suits their business needs. The paper also advises on avoiding legal fees that could result from misclassification of workers.

Helen Durkin, executive vice president of public policy at IHRSA, said that due to the emphasis on employer misclassification, many clubs have been audited and pressured to reclassify certain workers as employees.

“In addition to group exercise instructors, clubs that classify tennis and golf pros and personal trainers as independent contractors may be asked to prove their status if audited,” she said. “Since an improperly classified worker costs an employer an average of $3,701 in back taxes, the financial implications of wrongly classifying employees are significant.”

It’s important for clubs to know the ins and outs of classifying workers in specific ways, and the new briefing paper provides insight into questions that club operators might have, including information on how most clubs classify group exercise, fitness and racquet sports instructors. The paper looks at the difference between employees and independent contractors, what criteria operators should consider when classifying workers, and what can be done if it’s determined that independent contractors were misclassified. Other questions are also addressed, including if a club classifies an employee as an independent contractor, how can it ensure its classifications will survive an audit or an employee claim of misclassification?

While IHRSA notes that the information contained in their briefing papers should not be considered legal advice, the association does encourage its members to access and review these documents, which could save businesses from potential legal issues down the road. Members who have questions after reading the documents should contact IHRSA public policy or share the briefing paper with an attorney who specializes in their area of concern.

Other resources available for download from the IHRSA website cover topics including Employment Law Basics for Club Operators, Recruiting and Hiring, Wages and Hours, Employment Policies and Firing an Employee.

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